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    A Full Degree Below Normal: I'm a Mess, Will You Marry Me?

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011, 9:36 PM [General]

    When Gary and I vacation, we tend to stay in timeshares. There are advantages to staying in timeshares – the most significant of which (for me, anyway) is that you can do your own cooking. As someone who loves to cook and is a Weight Watcher, that always works out well for me.

    The downside, however, to doing your own cooking is that you also have to clean up, which to be frank, isn't such a big deal for me. I mean you just load the dishes, post and pans into the dishwasher and, bada bing, your work is done.

    However, there are those rare occasions when the timeshare we're in doesn't have a dishwasher. Like the one we're in now. That's a bit of a hassle. Still, I like to keep order in the kitchen, so when Gary offered to do the dishes after dinner tonight, I turned him down. There were only a few to do, anyway, so it wasn't such a chore.

    As I washed and watched the dishes go from dirty to clean, I had a flashback that made me cringe and chuckle.

    According to a recent study by Clorox, men will wear certain articles of clothing – including their skivvies – multiple times before washing them. The study reported that men will do a sniff test on laundry day to determine whether or not to wash something. Y'know what? That's how I was raised, so I don't find that so incomprehensible – except maybe for the undergarments part.... 

    In the kitchen, however, I am squeamish about cleanliness. Unlike some folks … .

    When I lived in Israel, my then boyfriend Alexander had a roommate named Ken. He was friendly, relatively good looking and had a nasty habit. Instead of washing his dishes after using them, he'd put them back in the cupboard dirty. When I asked him why he didn't wash them, he said, “Well, I'm just going to use them again, so why should I bother washing them?" 

    I suppose it will come as no surprise to learn that Ken was single. However, he had made it very clear that he was interested in finding a wife.

    When I think about Ken, the first thing that springs to mind is a poem by Shel Silverstein called, aptly, “The Dirtiest Man in the World.”

    I offer the final stanza of the poem to you now, Ken, wherever you may be. This follows the lengthy and detailed description from “Dirty Dan, the world's dirtiest man” of just how truly filthy he is: I'd brighten my life if I just found a wife, but I fear that will never be. Until I can find a girl, gentle and kind, with a beautiful face and a sensitive mind, who sparkles and twinkles and glistens and shines – and who's almost as dirty as me.”

    0 (0 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: I Don't Think So, Therefore ….

    Monday, July 25, 2011, 8:09 PM [General]

    “Get Six-Pack Abs by August!” the subject line of the email screamed at me.  

    I'm not sure it was really intended for me, though. After all, ostensibly to entice me to try the new “turbocharged” (is that different than “improved”?) Abs Diet, the email includes a picture of a man with no clothing on to hide the definition between his sculpted pecs and his chiseled waist.

    Now, frankly, I wouldn't mind the chance to meet the guy who possesses that body... .

    Hey, I'm married, I'm not dead.

    But that's as close as I'm going to get to a six-pack, I'm afraid, unless I go buy some beer or soda (diet, of course). I hold out precious little hope of sculpting my body that completely by August 1st, unless I were to work out non-stop for the next six days. I suppose I could just give up my day job … .  

    Even though the email came on July 17th, as I see it, I was still out of luck – in more ways than one.

    Forget that I'd have to forgo sleeping, eating, etc. in order to give enough time to my workout to even make a small impact. By the time I would have placed my order for the program, *I'd be lucky if it showed up at my house* by August 1st.

    Get six-pack abs by August? I don't think so, therefore what am I?   


    0 (0 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: A Lesson in Being a Man

    Sunday, July 24, 2011, 8:50 PM [General]

    One of the most popular activities here in Jensen Beach, FL is fishing – deep sea fishing in the Atlantic and inshore fishing on the Indian River. The variety of fish one can catch is extensive and wherever you go, there are boats and people with poles, rods, call 'em what you will … .

    What is not surprising is that most of the people wielding said paraphernalia are men and boys. Looking through the pictures on various fishing expedition websites, it seems as though for every 10 pictures, one is a girl – and I do mean “girl” – on her own. There are, however, a fair number of pictures of girls and women with men. In one of my favorite shots, a young girl is cringing as her beaming father hoists about the ugliest thing with fins and scales I've ever seen.

    Her face sums up how I feel about the sport – bewildered and generally creeped out.

    Even though – or perhaps, especially because – I worked for a group connected to sport fishing for a year, I have no idea what drives men to sit in a boat or on shore amid slimy, often stinky bait for hours at a time, hoping that something remarkable will happen.

    I suppose men might argue that they can't understand what drives women to shop for hours at a time in the hopes of finding something wonderful (preferably on sale).

    My argument? At least we get to try things on.

    And then, while shopping today (I can't help it. It's in my DNA.) I saw this sign.

    It was a good lesson for me. I think I got a little closer to the truth today about what it means to be a man.



    1.9 (1 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: A Trailer with an Ocean View

    Saturday, July 23, 2011, 10:10 PM [General]

    I'm on vacation. Hooray! Gary and I have come to Florida – where, right now, it's cooler than it is in DC (ugh!) – to work hard for a week at doing nothing. The location we picked, we understand, is ideal for kicking back and relaxing. The hotel we're staying at is in a town called Jensen Beach, right on the Indian River. And I mean right on the river. From the property we're on, you can walk out on a dock and jump in the river, should you so choose (but you're not supposed to).

    So we arrived from DC in Florida this afternoon and after several wrong turns in our awesome rental car, we finally got here.

    At one gas station where we stopped for help, I asked a postal carrier who was unloading items from her truck for directions, figuring, if anyone knows the roads around here, it'll be the postal carrier, no? Exactly, no. She said, “Y'know you've probably picked about the worst person to ask for directions. You see, I'm from Boca (Raton).” Naturally... .

    Anyway, after getting on and off Route 1 seemingly a thousand times, we got good directions to our hotel. About a ½ mile up the road from where we're staying, there's a trailer park. The thing is, there's nothing on the other side so there's an unobstructed view of the waterway, which is spectacular.

    It got me wondering, how many trailer parks come with an ocean view? Does that drive prices up?

    1.9 (1 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: Ima Word Smith

    Friday, July 22, 2011, 1:06 PM [General]

    Q: What’s the difference between a fish and a piano?

    A: You can’t tuna fish!

    I love words and all things having to do with words – reading, writing, talking, singing, and especially playing. And not just Scrabble, although I do so love that game.

    I am forever making plays on words and drawing pleasure from seemingly ordinary word combinations that, when looked at carefully, have a second meaning.

    A few years ago, I was a member database records specialist for a non-profit organization. It was less “work” and more entertainment on that job given my fondness for words that make me laugh.

    A few records that stand out even now include the lady who lived on “Easy Street” and poor Messrs Edwin H. Dingus and Larry M. Doody. I’m sure they both suffered considerably as children. 

    In considering words, I’ve been trying for a while now to come up with the right one to describe my mind of late. For the past two days, upon returning from my errands, I’ve thrown my car keys in the trash. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to remove the keys immediately after realizing what I’d done. But it made me reflect. What was I thinking – or was I even thinking at all – in those moments when I was discarding my keys without so much as a second thought?

    Yesterday I hit upon just the term to sum up my state of mind: Addled. My brain has been completely addled by this heat. While my actions may be questionable though, I’m pleased to know that my ability to select words to describe said actions has not been compromised.

    Sometimes I wonder….

    At a recent Weight Watchers meeting the discussion centered on managing barbeque-/party-related food challenges. The meeting leader kicked things off by asking who’s been invited out lately. Few people reacted, which led her to understand that the meeting attendees don’t have many friends.

    “I see,” she said compassionately, “We’re just a bunch of social piranhas.” 

    Any idea what kind of schools social piranhas attend?




    0 (0 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: She Who Laughs Last…

    Thursday, July 21, 2011, 4:33 PM [General]

    Q: How can you tell if a chromosome is a boy or a girl?

    A: Pull down its genes!

    Yikes, it’s hot out there! On this morning’s news, the weatherman was urging people to stay indoors. If you must be outdoors – for work, for example – he said, be sure to stay hydrated, take breaks and stay shaded with a hat.

    I started thinking about people who work outside – gardeners, construction workers, road crews, farmers… . I don’t get how they do it. I can only assume that they’re committed to what they do. Like my girlfriend’s husband, who ran the cow barn on the kibbutz I used to live at.

    While on kibbutz, one of two jobs I held was working in the kitchen. I worked alongside a delightful woman named Atara (Ah-tah-rah). I knew she was married, but I was unaware that she had children until, one day, I ran into her outside of the kitchen. She was walking with a young girl, who she introduced as her daughter. 

    It came as no surprise, really, because the little girl was a dead ringer for her father. And, accordingly, I took note.

     “My goodness, Atara,” I said, “your daughter looks exactly like your husband.”

    “I supposed that’s a good thing,” Atara replied.

    Thinking I’d have a little fun with her, not remembering what job her husband held, I quipped, “Well, it’s better than having her look like the milkman.”

    In the battle of wits, I lost that round. Effortlessly, Atara countered, “My husband is the milkman!” 


    2.8 (1 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: Signs (from God?)

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011, 3:57 PM [General]

    I believe in signs from God. I’m not talking about manifestations here. I’m talking about actual signs. Let me explain…

    Long before I got married, in the midst of considering dating a guy named Alexander, I took an overnight trip. In the room I stayed in, facing my bed and thus making it very hard to miss, was an immense clock. Written in huge letters across the face of the clock was the word “Alex.” I have no idea why, but there it was, right in front of me – a literal “sign” directing me towards him.

    Cue “Twilight Zone” music here… .

    More recently, following surgery I was prescribed an opioid – think “narcotic” – pain killer. An unfortunate side effect of this class of pain killers is that they can, to put it politely, “back you up.” I was no exception to that rule. Thankfully, I stopped taking those pills days ago.

    Lest I forget that I took them, however, in yesterday’s mail, I got a letter that went something like this: “We are conducting a clinical research study of people taking opioid pain killers who may be experiencing ‘back ups’ (my word, not theirs). Is someone in your household taking opioid pain killers and experiencing ‘back ups’? Please call us to see if you qualify for our study… .”

    It freaked me out. Another sign from God, no doubt, because God alone knows how this company in particular found out about my pill-taking habits!

    Years ago, I stumbled across this, which may or may not have been a sign from God.



    If it was, it shows God’s got a great sense of humor. After all, I’m pretty sure this wasn’t something the grocery store really planned on selling… .

    What signs from God have you seen? Do they point to God’s sense of humor? 


    2.8 (1 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: Good Timezzzzzzz …

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011, 6:09 PM [General]

    At different times, I pray for different things. Recently, I’ve found myself praying for a few more hours each day. You see, I’m preparing for a vacation. In addition to packing, readying the house, conducting last-minute research on tourist attractions and organizing relevant paperwork, I’m volunteering and participating in all the daily activities I engage in as an at-home wife – cooking, running errands, yard work, working out, etc.

    It feels, at moments, as though I just don’t have enough time to get it all done. The simple solution, I know, is to stay up a little later.

    Good luck with that. Last night, in protest, my body quit on me at 8:30 p.m.

    I’m just not as young as I used to be. I remember staying up ‘til “the wee hours” in college studying and partying.

    Wait a minute. I must be thinking of someone else…

    I graduated from college 20 years ago. Reflecting on when I was 20 years younger than I am now, I see some noteworthy similarities. What’s that phrase? “Same ‘you-know-what,’ different day”? That’s pretty much sums up my situation.

    In senior year of college, I would frequently tell my roommate that I needed to pull an “all-nighter.”    It became a running joke because not once did I successfully pull one off. Indeed, more often than not, I’d be out cold on the couch by 10. Sometimes, wild and crazy co-ed that I was, I’d manage to stay up ‘til (gasp) 11!

    This morning, I awoke to an email from Kate, happily accepting my invitation to stay overnight on her trip east (she lives in CA) next month. I haven’t seen her since graduation, so there will be lots of reminiscing to do, pictures to look at, stories to tell and re-tell… . I’m sure we’ll be up *very late*.

    It’ll be just like old timezzzzz. 


    0 (0 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: Better to Remain Silent and Be Thought a Fool …

    Monday, July 18, 2011, 5:02 PM [General]

    Yesterday was epic. 

    The celebrated US Women’s soccer team played in the World Cup finals and lost to Japan. It was the first time in 25 years that Japan has defeated the Americans. And it was my first time ever watching a soccer game. I cannot tell a lie. I’m not a soccer fan.

    Time was, that I wasn’t a sports fan, period.

    That changed when I married a Syracuse University graduate (that’d be Gary, in case you were wondering) who enthusiastically follows the men’s basketball team.

    In six years of marriage, I’ve become quite the sports fan. I’m especially fond of basketball, even going so far as to get season tickets for DC’s women’s professional basketball team, the Mystics, for two years.

    I also enjoy baseball, am starting to appreciate football more and more, and as long as I’m not dizzy from the sheer speed of it, get a kick out of ice hockey.

    My burgeoning interest in sports notwithstanding, I have my limits.

    Last night, I watched a Mystics game on TV. Between the timeouts and plays needing review, the final 20 seconds of the game took about 10 minutes. It was intolerable.

    Maybe I’m not really a sports fan, then, because I know that die-hards wouldn’t have a problem sitting through all those stops. They’d just pop open another beer… .

    But sit through it I did, so maybe I am a serious fan. All I know is that I’ve come a long way.

    Case in point: In college, when I knew nothing of sports and cared even less, I got engaged one day in a conversation about ice hockey. My friend and I were both New Yorkers and eventually, the discussion turned to, “Which team do you like better, the Islanders or the Rangers?”

    How do you decide when you have no substantive facts to go on? I did my level best.  

    I knew that the Islanders played on Long Island, which was closer to home for me, so I felt I owed them my allegiance. Nevertheless, I didn’t care for their team colors. I’m not a big fan of bright orange, electric blue and white all together. 

    Armed with these truths, I said, “Well, I know I should support the Islanders, but I prefer the Rangers because I like their costumes better.”

    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool ….    


    2.8 (1 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: I Will Eat Anything for Fun, But I Won’t Eat That…

    Sunday, July 17, 2011, 7:42 PM [General]

    So yesterday I talked about how I’m a consummate foodie. It’s true. I’ll try almost anything ... once. One of my favorite television shows is “Bizarre Foods” with Andrew Zimmern on the travel channel. He’s always partaking of the coolest looking morsels ….

    Might my predilections have something to do with being named “Daphne”? Weird name breeds weird tastes? It’s anyone’s guess. What I do know is that I lean towards more atypical foods. Today as a snack I had roasted seaweed. In a word, delicious.

    But there are times when even I have to draw the line. Like if it’s living in my house.

    Huh?! No, I don't mean the family cat or dog. 

    Yesterday morning I awoke to a sound I do not like to hear – running in the attic. That means some four-legged critter – probably a squirrel or raccoon – has, uninvited, taken up residence.

    Last fall, a group of hard-working guys from a local pest control company battled for more than a month to rid our attic of numerous unwanted furry guests.

    Before we engaged the company, a team member came out to assess the situation. After inspecting the house, he told us we had grey and flying squirrels in our attic. A two-for-one. How charming.  

    Tim (the pest control tech) explained that we had two trapping options – live or lethal. Having lived with the sounds of constant running and scratching for months, I was at wits end; the only thing that mattered to me was ridding the house forever of these small, yet gigantic pests. Hence, death to the squirrels!   

    I piped right up and said, “Kill ‘em. It’s a no-brainer.”  

    Tim must have said something about disposal because I remember saying, “I don’t care if you take ‘em home and eat ‘em… .”

    He replied very matter-of-factly, “Well, Ma’am, I’m from West Virginia and I eat squirrels, but only country squirrels. The ones living near the city often root around in garbage and are very dirty.”

    I’ll keep that in mind the next time I have a hankering for squirrel… . Something tells me that the netherworld will freeze over before that happens, though. To paraphrase Meatloaf – which I love to eat and whom I appreciate as a musician – I will eat anything for fun, but I won’t eat that. 


    3.2 (2 Ratings)

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